The HomeOwners Alliance has launched a new attack on estate agents – although reluctantly concluding that they are necessary because of their local knowledge and ability to hold the hands of first-time buyers.
The Alliance’s latest onslaught starts by accusing agents of having “a scant acquaintance with truth” and ensnaring people in “dodgy contracts”.
It goes on to accuse them of charging “blood-boiling prices for doing little” and continues: “At the HomeOwners Alliance, we have long campaigned for reform of High Street estate agents, urging them to have fair contracts and transparent fees, and more recently we have equipped home buyers to make estate agents compete on service and performance through our EstateAgent4Me tool.”
The tool is said to be used to grow conveyancing business for ULS Technology, a firm which last year took out a one-third stake in the Alliance.
The Alliance’s latest blog goes on to say that high street agents will not disappear, but that “the inexorable march of the online agents will shake up the market, gobbling up market share.
“The high street estate agents that survive – and thrive – won’t be the ones who continue their old shady ways, but the ones who adapt to the new competition by being more focused on the customer and more flexible.”
The blog says that agents should pitch themselves as independent property experts, “the solution to the home owner’s problems rather than as they all too often are at the moment, the problem itself”.
The Alliance, which sets out its stall as a consumers’ champion and has credibility in government circles – for example, last year taking part in a consultation on the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge – says that its “biggest cause” of membership is disputes with estate agents.